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If the word “beat” quickly leads you to "tab," "bat," "ate," "bet," "tea," and "eat," you’ll probably do just fine at Writer Rumble for iPhone and iPad. Proving the pen is mightier than the sword, combatants in Writer Rumble duel not with fireballs, but word tiles. Dragging your finger across the grid of letters to spell words creates not only terminology but also projectiles, which are flung at the opponent to cause damage. The longer and more complicated the word, the more powerful the attack. Think Boggle, but more violent.
Contestants are gorgeously rendered versions of literary legends, with Edgar Allen Poe making an appearance alongside Homer, H.P. Lovecraft, and a handful of others. Each writer has a collection of special moves which, when used properly, can turn the tide of battle in a heartbeat. Some skills boost your damage, some your defense, and one – the insanely useful “scramble” – gives you an entirely new board of random letters.
The concept is strong, and Writer Rumble’s presentation is stunning, but neither the solo mode or multiplayer approach fully lives up to its potential at present. Single-player mode "Survive with Words" is fine, but trying to stay alive against endless waves of ghosts, flying books, and other ghouls gets repetitive – especially when there are no skill or character unlocks to work toward. Still, spelling large and powerful words always feels great.
Online multiplayer is what you're really here for, but unfortunately games are slow to connect and drop mid-match too often to fully enjoy. Finding players isn't difficult, but completing a full match is uncommon. Multiplayer is a blast when it works, though; just be prepared to feel that sting of defeat when your opponent counters your “tab” with “desolate.”
The bottom line. Despite some connection issues, flinging words as a literary master is an undeniably fun experience.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later.
Beautiful character and presentation. Neat spin on familiar Boggle gameplay. Online matches are intense.
Online connections are shoddy at best. No unlockables. Wish you could tap letters instead of just dragging them.